NEVERWINTER Interview with Jack Emmert and Aaron Brady!

Neverending Nights (NeN): So admit it – do the folks of Cryptic Studios sit around the table sometimes and just play 4th Edition D&D? Go on! Make me envious of the jobs you have! I dare you! (laughs!)

Jack Emmert (JE): We have at least 4 campaigns going on at the moment at Cryptic. We’ve got a gaming room full of miniatures tables, consoles, arcade machines and a foosball table.

NeN: So you’re not going to be mad when I sneak into Cryptic and join you in some of your games… right? (laugh)

Aaron Brady (AB): We love D&D, everyone on the team is in at least one weekly game, and many people play more often.

NeN: Do you realize what you have done to so many people who finally were free of building Persistent Worlds? And now, you have just handed them a needle to inject right back into their veins and drag them right back into the world of NEVERWINTER! How will you handle all the angry emails from the spouses of those who find themselves once again, donning their pixelated armor to fight off evil and save the world – again? (laughs!)

JE: After four MMORPG’s, I’m rather used to it!

NeN: Cryptic Studios is known for the incredible game City of Heroes. Within City of Heroes, there was an absurd amount of incredible customization that was available for the character design! Will we be seeing that same kind of customization available for Neverwinter? Will players be able to customize both character appearance as well as armors, weapons, etc?

JE: We’ll definitely be giving free rein to players with their avatar. You can expect customization on par with our other games. We’ll probably have aesthetic clothing that a player can choose to wear and probably limited customization of lewt armor.

NeN: We know the five classes being offered (Cleric, Wizard, Warrior, Rogue and Ranger) – but have you already selected what Races will be available as “playable characters”? Will it be humans, elves and dwarves only? I may have heard that there’s some “special” ones also – if I were to hazard a guess, with it being Forgotten Realms and R.A. Salvatore – that perhaps it just might be Drow Elves? And what about Multi-Classing as characters advance in levels? Will such things as Warrior/Cleric be available to create? Along those same lines, will there be any form of Prestige Classes or Class Kits? A Ranger advances to Arcane Archer, that sort of thing?

JE: There will definitely be more than the basic classes. And given our tie to the Salvatore trilogy, drow isn’t a bad guess, but I won’t confirm or deny. At first release, we aren’t planning on multi-classes, prestige classes or class kits. It’s a living game and we’ll be adding things every month, so expect to see a lot after launch.

My Faith Protects. My Hand Destroys.

NeN: Speaking of classes, how will deities work, particularly in the case of clerics? Will we get a generic cleric, or will we choose a deity that would dictate our armor, weapons, spells, etc, like in D&D?

JE: Right now, clerics are generic. Deities are a roleplaying choice, rather than a game one.

NeN: Music is a key part to any game, as it helps set the mood and feeling! It can make or break a game, especially an RPG, where you want to pull the player into the game with you and make them feel like they’re a part of that world! Our resident music master – Travis “Snafe” Richards – asked a question that many people seem to over look: How extensive is the soundtrack going to be and who is writing the music?

JE: The same talented team that create the music for STO and Champions will be bringing the Neverwinter world alive.

Power Is My Truth. Fire Is My Word.

NeN: I know for a fact you will be creating something that will be very supportive towards the Community – but one question many might ask is – How will you be handling how players go about connecting with one another? Will there be an active “Looking for Help” Thread on the forums?

JE: Darn straight. The best people to help are always other players!

NeN: In one interview it was mentioned that the game will be based of 4th Edition D&D – and include such things as Strength, Dexterity, etc – and it was mentioned that even Charisma will play a part! What about Alignment? Will selecting an Alignment be available? And will it impact how NPCs within the game interact with you? Or will there be “Factions” within the game that you can gain or lose favor with?

JE: Neither alignment nor factions play a role in Neverwinter.

NeN: One of the greatest aspects of Neverwinter Nights, by the folks from Bioware, was the expansions and the additions that each expansion brought. Is it safe to assume that NEVERWINTER will see expansions that may “expand” not only the content to explore but also classes and races that will be available to play?

JE: Yes, definitely! That’s part of the new path for Cryptic. We’re releasing a great story based co-op RPG with a continual flow of new content.

NeN: Combat in Neverwinter Nights (the first one by Bioware) moved slow when doing melee combat. It almost looked as if you and your enemy might be dancing with the side step moves. Will combat in NEVERWINTER operate differently? More quickly?

JE: We’re not an action rpg really, but we’re also not turn based. I’d say Neverwinter is faster paced than previous iterations of the IP, but not as fast as a God of War.

I Am The Knife In The Dark.

NeN: In a previous article it was mentioned that the game isn’t set to ship for PCs until late 2011, but it will be part of a multi-platform event. I know a lot of people are looking for some clarification as to what you mean by “multi-platform.” Does this mean that we can expect to see NEVERWINTER on consoles such as XBOX360 and the PS3? Also, I imagine that it will eventually be available for the Mac later? And I know some folks are asking if it will be available for Linux?

JE: Multiplatform probably meant PC and pen & paper only. There are no plans to put Neverwinter on the console. Cryptic is focused on the PC medium only. Mac is a possibility, but not at launch. Same with Linux.

NeN: Speaking of clarification – I believe you have said this will not be an MMORPG, but rather a OMG (laughs – great acronym! – which stands for “Online Multiplayer Game”) – so to set everyone’s curious minds to rest – there will be no monthly fee associated with playing this game, correct? Will this be like “Guild Wars” (where there is no monthly fee) but you purchase the game, and play on a server hosted by Cryptic Studios? What will be the maximum amount of players allowed on each game? (I know you mentioned the player and four others, including AI) – but will groups of adventurers be able to interact with other people and groups?

JE: We haven’t announced any business model yet, but we’re looking at a variety of options. This is definitely a game where players are on our servers and we’ll have persistent areas that will hold scores of players. So you’ll not only be able to play alongside your friends, but also make some new ones too.

My Steel, Unbendable. My Will, Unbreakable.

NeN: Forge, as it is tentatively being called, allows players to create their own quests within the game. How exactly is that going to work? Is there any way you can elaborate on that? (I know it’s all still new!) For example, will players be able to create their own persistent worlds (PW) that they could host for other players to log on? Will Forge have the same style of “DM Client” that was available with Neverwinter Nights from Bioware? (Enabling them to move about their own world, take possession of creatures, etc). How are these creations shared and played in? Will there be support for Persistent Worlds similar to the first and second Neverwinter Nights games? Would Forge you allow mechanic customization? Would someone be able to create their own entire class, race or even change around some of the core game mechanics (Or create their own)? Within Forge will players be able to create customized Weapons and Armor? Will there be creatures within the Forge tool set that might not be immediately available within the campaign of the game? (One of the downfalls for Neverwinter Nights 2 for me was not having all the main dragons [Red, Blue, Green, White, Black, etc] available within the tool set). As you can see I have a huge interest in Forge, and what it can do! I am sure MANY others do as well, since that’s what made Neverwinter Nights so incredible the first time around! If you beat the campaign game, you could log into your favorite PW and play a brand new game, with brand new quests! (Not to mention it also made doing Machinima very easy!)

JE: For novice users, the focus for FORGE will be creating quests. One option will definitely be to hook it up to the persistent Neverwinter world, but we are discussing the ability to create your own campaign world on its own virtual server.

AB: For advanced users, we’re hoping to offer all the power that our engine has to offer. At launch this will probably be limited, but we want to offer as much customization as we can.

NeN: Still along the same lines of Forge; I would rate the user friendliness of the Aurora Toolset (from the first Neverwinter Nights) as a 10 (being the easiest), while the Toolset for Neverwinter Nights 2 was a little more complex, and I would have rated that a 5. Where would you rate the friendly-userness (is that even a word?) for NEVERWINTER’s toolset?

JE: Wow. I guess I’d say the Aurora Toolset would be significantly more difficult than what we’re aiming for. We’d like something a little more user friendly…maybe a 15 on your scale.

NeN: Another Forge related question – What rules and regulations will they enforce with Forge? Example given, what’s stopping a lvl 1 character from making a custom quest and rewarding max xp, max gold or rewarding a god weapon? Holy Avenger…? Also, have you anticipated what will no doubt be a massive wave of custom quests and what will be the process of posting/finding them?

JE: At the moment, we’d control the XP/gold/items dropped, so that eliminates some level of manipulation. Definitely players can control the spawns and their behavior – to a degree – so we are trying to make sure there isn’t a situation where a level 1 character can kill a Red Dragon! We’ll be using rating and sorting tools not dissimilar to You Tube. Most recent, most popular, highest rated, etc.

I Am Death Upon The Wind.

NeN: This is more for myself being curious (and thinking Machinima!) – what camera views will the game support? Will there be multiple camera views available? For the person who likes to play the third person over the shoulder view, or first person right up in the action view? Will the camera have free roaming or at least limited roaming (like Neverwinter Nights from Bioware)?

JE: Now’s the time to give your input! Our decisions on the camera aren’t set at the moment (and in fact we are talking about that very thing right now).

NeN: Well for very selfish reasons, I would love a first person camera view available! That way those of us that might want to chase Machinima into the new NEVERWINTER game could do so much easier! It would be wonderful to have a fixed “distance” the camera moves from the character, but still allow the camera to zoom all the way up into ‘first person mode’ if desired!

NeN: Something I don’t think that’s been asked – and it may be too early to tell at this point since we’re looking at a 2011 release – but do you have any idea what the System Requirements might be for NEVERWINTER?

JE: It’s definitely too early, but from a philosophical standpoint, we try to target the average system at release.

NeN: Is there anything YOU would like to add?

JE: Can’t wait to start working with the Neverwinter fans and getting the game to be everything it can be.

NeN: And finally the most serious question of all (laughs!) – What are the chances of seeing Grayson the Fighter and Peter the Ranger hanging out as NPCs within one of the taverns of NEVERWINTER? Hey! I just had to ask, all right? Stop looking at me like that and shaking your heads!

JE: It’s actually possible; I fully anticipate reaching out to the current Neverwinter community in the very near future for closed beta. And I expect that some of this content will be SO outstanding…it might be in at release!

NeN: Thank you Jack and Aaron for taking the time out to hang out and answer these questions! It’s far more appreciated than you could hope to realize!

JE: No problem! Thanks for taking the time out to come up with the questions!

AB: See you in Neverwinter.

NeN: For those of you salivating for more – just know this! The first book, by the way entitled “Gauntlgrym” written by R. A. Salvatore is set to lay the groundwork for the game’s storyline and will hit the shelves on October 5, for those that may not have already heard! You can also become a fan of NEVERWINTER on Facebook and follow NEVERWINTER on Twitter!

Got Comments? Come by our forum and let’s discuss them!

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